Immersive Experience: The Walls of Harrow House

Alexander Ferguson and Noah Appelbaum as the Draftsmen | Photo Credit: Evan Barr

Alexander Ferguson and Noah Appelbaum as the Draftsmen | Photo Credit: Evan Barr

It is currently haunt season and here in the Midwest, it’s hard to find something that stands out from the rest. I have some personal favorites in suburbs of Chicago, but I learned via the internet how much I’ve been missing.

While I love jump scares and bloody props, I always wanted something more interactive. Luckily, now escape rooms are really popular but it’s hard for me to find a horror themed one in the area. I play horror video games because it allows me to be part of the story and unique ones like UNTIL DAWN gave me the chance to decide how a horror movie is played out. My decisions always had consequences and I failed to keep all my characters alive. I don’t need to be scared out of my mind to have fun. I just want to be a part of something different that involves a darker edge. I came across an event on social media referred to as a “once in a lifetime tour” of something called The Walls of Harrow House. It was going to involve puppets and attendees would be allowed to freely roam. I had to check this out.

Taking place at the Chopin Theatre on Division Street in Chicago, we get a brief introduction by life-size puppets with faces that are slightly off to the point where they are clearly human, yet sinister at the same time. We enter Harrow House where we meet a fan of the fictional architect who built the home. He stands as if he’s one of us and is not shy about letting it be known that he wants a job there. He’s promised a position if he’s still wanting it after experience all that Harrow House has to offer. This is where we get to wander on our own.

The creators have utilized a space to create rooms separated by closed black curtains. Different characters show up during the hour stay, each with their own agendas and history. My favorites involved shrunken heads that created a musical number using rulers and utensils. It’s best not to give away too much as there are some fun surprises and I even saw a couple people curse out loud as they were startled by the strange looking puppets when they showed up standing behind them.

This experience was like the “Candle Cove” season of CHANNEL ZERO meets Lars von Trier with childlike qualities cross-dressed in the devil’s robe. I wouldn’t necessarily call this your typical haunt, as you’re not going to be screaming every other minute. This is for those who love to witness the bizarre and unexplainable aspects of theater where they become a part of it. I highly recommend going with a group as you can separate and witness different situations happening. Almost like a “create your own adventure” style, this begs for at least a couple visits as I’m well aware I missed out on some fun stuff due to being distracted by other characters I couldn’t take my eyes off. The puppets are the stuff of nightmares and I love their subtlety. If you want a narrative driven experience for Halloween, I recommend checking this out.

Jovy Skol

For more information, or to purchase tickets to The Walls of Harrow House, visit roughhousetheater.com/harrow-house-2/.